Few activities bring me greater pleasure than hiking into the beautiful Alaska mountains. Maybe photographing what I see while hiking… and sometimes stopping to pick the wild foods and herbs I find while photographing the beautiful Alaska scenery… and that my husband is sooooo patient as I turn the hike into a much longer and slower hike and encourage him to help fill the berry jars…
Ripe watermelon berries are orange-red to deep purple. They are very juicy and their flavor reminds of watermelon—hence the name. Usually we never find enough watermelon berries for more than a handful and taste but… I picked about a quart of the watermelon berries that were everywhere, even while Greg was taking naps…
Fills 2 pint jars
5 cups of fresh picked and cleaned (rinsed of bugs and any remaining stems) watermelon berries
½ cup filtered spring water
2 tablespoons of Knox unflavored gelatin (each packet is a tablespoon)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup raw honey (optional)
- Place the cleaned berries in a 2 quart pot with about ½ cup of water.
- Bring to boil and then reduce the heat to medium.
- Let simmer so the berries cook and the berry/liquid volume reduces to about half. This concentrates the amazing but subtle flavor of the watermelon berries—about 30 minutes depending on heat and pan factors.
- Mix together the gelatin, lemon juice and honey, and stir into the concentrated berry mixture. Return to a boil and then remove from heat. Pour mixture into sterilized canning jars.
- Check all lids to make sure they seal, best to use new lids. Submerge the lids and jars in water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 8 minutes to sterilize.
- When ready to place food in jars, use tongs to remove a jar from the boiling hot water, tip upside down to drain.
- Fill to ½ inch with prepared food.
- Remove a lid from the boiling hot water with tongs and place on top. Lightly screw on canning ring.
- Continue processing until all the jam is in jars. Let cool slowly.
Note: The seeds in watermelon berries are small and add helpful fiber to our diet. They aren’t very tough but are big enough to settle to the bottom until the gelatin thickens the jam as it cools—after about an hour on the counter the thickness may be enough to keep the seeds from all settling to the bottom. Just screw the rings down tight and invert the jam a few times. Then return to the counter to cool more.
Ultimately, store the jam in the fridge. It really isn’t shelf stable—not that it matters, you won’t have it around for long…
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